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Forsyth Sheriff's Office Goes Electronic with Pawnbrokers' Reports

Investigators no longer will have to enter information manually, and they'll have access to digital images of items and the people who pawn them to aid in investigations.

A change to Forsyth County's pawn shop ordinance should make Forsyth County Sheriff's Office investigator's jobs a little easier, as they take advantage of technology to speed the reporting process. Expect to have your picture taken if you pawn, pledge, trade or exchange an item if the amendment passes.

The Forsyth County Commission is scheduled to hold the first public hearing on the proposed amendments at its 5 p.m. meeting today, according to Jodi Gardner, spokesperson for the county. A second public hearing will be required before the board can take action.

Pawn shops already enter pawn tickets into their own computer systems and send it to the Sheriff's Office to be entered into the state system, said Lt. Col Richard J. Doyle, director of Operations for the Sheriff's Office. Now they'll have to submit a report by 9 a.m. each day of the previous 24 hours of all property pledged, received, traded, bartered, bought or otherwise acquired by the licensee.

"The change in process would eliminate the need for our investigators to manually enter pawn tickets into the state computer," he said in e-mail answers to questions posed about the amendment. "Many neighboring counties like Cherokee, Gwinnett and Cobb already follow this process."

The pawns shops have been following laws, but this system will ensure accuracy and increase efficiency on the part of the Sheriff's Office, Lt. Doyle said.

Check out pawn shops in the Cumming Patch Directory of Businesses.

Pawnbrokers who use security cameras will need to keep the video on hand for at least 30 days, and make it available to the Sheriff's office as requested.

That won't be the only time a person visiting a pawnbroker can expect to be in front of a camera. Pawnbrokers now must take your photo if you pawn an item, and that image has to be saved with other records. A fingerprint also will be taken and added to the pawn ticket.

"Photos will help us better identify items, especially if we are searching for an item that had been stolen and sold to a pawn shop," Lt. Doyle said. This is another reason why it is important for citizens to photograph their valuables and keep the photo's in a safe place. If they are a victim of a theft, many times the photo match expedites our investigations, therefore returning stolen items to the rightful owner."

The Sheriff's Office director of Operations gave credit to Lt. Franco of the criminal intelligence division for working with pawnshops in the county and moving the amendment forward.

"It should not be a surprise or hindrance to the way they conduct business today," Lt. Doyle said.

He said this is one of the ways "the new Sheriff's Office is looking to use technology to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs.  

What do you think about the potential change to Forsyth County's pawn shop ordinance? Tell us in comments.

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